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Arven: Black is the Colour
Like you, I am always in search of new bands that deliver well written lyrics along with well played music and vocals. I think that is true of all fans of music. You want something that will both challenge and entertain you. Bands that add a symphonic presence to their music show a willingness to go beyond the normal rock and roll I grew up with back in the 60's and 70s. Though I still love that music, and listen to it often, the type of music I want to hear today includes a symphonic presence along with the sonic power the band normally delivers.
I have been fortunate to have found a number of bands over the last four or so years that fit that description well. Now I think I may have found another band to add to the growing list of favorites.
Arven is a Frankfurt, Germany symphonic metal band that delivers that stirring symphonic metal experience with not only power but beautiful vocals supported by an almost all female band. Lisa Geiß, plays bass; Anastasia Schmidt and Ines Thomé play guitars; Lena Yatsula, plays keyboards; Carina Hanselmann, sings lead vocals; and the only male member, Till Felden, plays drums.
They released their new full-length album Black is the Colour on Massacre Records, on August 23, 2013. It follows Music of Light, which was released in 2011 and a self-titled demo record, which was released in 2008.
This album opens with stunning lead electric guitar, pulsating drums, power bass, and a sonic capacity that will capture your attention immediately. You will "Believe". Hanselmann's beautiful and powerful vocals sing "Open your eyes, and see the world ahead, open wide". She further encourages us with "Ready to explore adventures of life. You set out on the journey". Yes. And this song will take you there. Gather your headset and get a comfortable chair to prepare for a journey of the mind. Like Edenbridge and some of my favorite bands there is an uplifting message to the music which only adds to the power. Hanselmann sings, "High above there is a star that shines bright for me. Gives warmth and light. And in times of need I know for sure there is someone who believes in me". There is plenty of negative energy in metal; this band provides the light with plenty of power supporting.
"Don't Look Back". Yes, good advice. This is a powerful metal track delivered with heavy lead electric, slamming drums, and powerful supporting bass and keys. But Hanselmann takes center stage to deliver the story of a life changing experience which involves shattered dreams and pain. The violin and deep bass provide emotional notes that drive home the message. Hanselmann sings, "Don't look back, please go on. Though it's hard to leave behind your shattered dreams. They seemed so real. Time will heal the pain oh please believe". A message that can never be repeated enough. She goes on to deliver powerful emotional lines like, "Nowadays the fog grows deep. It keeps away the sunlight from my aching skin. All warmth and colours disappeared". And later, "Has the best passed, or is it yet to come? What am I here for, which road is mine to take? A new dawn, a start and an empty page". Messages as old as time, but delivered with passion and enthusiasm. The musical interlude that starts at 2:26 with soft piano, drums, launching lead electric guitar and bass, is one of the best on the album. Making it even better is the powerful choir – like vocal celebration that follows. Epic symphonic…yes.
"Rainsong" has a familiar harmony and sound, but I still have not been able to place it. Let's take a moment to discuss Hanselmann's voice, because this track is a perfect showcase. Her voice is so unique and well trained. Powerful, emotional, soft and not that screeching sound that often permeates the female metal genre. This is classic sounding vocals that you can listen to over again. She sets the perfect mood and feeling with the lyrics, "Autumn leaves are falling to the ground. My heartbeat is the only sound around". I think we can all imagine the scene. As a lover of fall, this song is easily one of my favorites. "100 tiny raindrops tell the story of their journey".
Like every band, Arven have their featured players. Hanselmann's voice is one of the reasons you will buy this album. Another is Lena Yatsula's keyboards. She opens "The One for Me" with bold piano and then delivers a synthesizer extravaganza that would bring a smile to the face of Jordan Rudess. But that's not all you get…You also get a great romantic duet between Hanselmann and guest vocalist Stefan Schmidt, from Van Canto. Another album highlight. Just close your eyes and let your ears drink in that soft piano with Hanselmann singing into your headphones. Nice.
"All I Got" is another showcase for the talents of Hanselmann and Yatsula. The piano lifts the mood and soundscape upwards as the supporting strings and soft drums, with solid bass help to balance the high notes. This is a powerful song of love and devotion full of passion. You will not want Yatsula's piano solo near the track's end to ever stop.
"My Darkest Dream" is full of Yatsula's well-developed keyboard soundscape before the pulsating lead electric guitars, warming bass, and drilling drums kick in. Hanselmann delivers more emotional passion with "I want to hear you scream. I want to know for sure!" Prepare yourself for some sonic heavy metal guitar, bass and drums followed by more of Yatsula's keyboard talents after Hanselmann lays out the initial story.
"Cercle D 'Emeraude" is an instrumental extravaganza similar to the medieval sounds you might hear from Blackmore's Night. Full of dancing violins, powerful lead electric guitar, dripping deep bass, and gut punching drums building a dynamic symphonic soundscape. Oh and don't forget those finger dancing piano keys from Yatsula. They even add flute to complete the experience. Everything you could want in an instrumental journey and experience.
"In Your Dreams" opens with classical acoustic guitar and soft keys. Perfect fall or winter fireside sounds. Then Hanselmann's voice takes you there, "Deep in the silent ocean. High up in the sky. There is a place where you can find what you seek. The path shows you the right way". Yes, strong emotions and a passion in her voice that convince you she believes it. Yatsula delivers original keys as the ladies pump powerful electric guitars and bass through the wires. The drums keep perfect rhythm encapsulating the soundscape.
"Fireside Stories" is a heavier sound than you might expect for the title…at least at the opening. The powerful guitar and drum opening ignites, before Hanselmann's voice softens the sound. Then the perfect Blackmore's Night vocal round begins, "Come join our circle tonight. Take a seat right here by our side. Tales of magic love and desire. Told by the heat of the fire". You can almost feel that you're there with them, out in a deep forest around the campfire. Music that takes you to places you remember well or want to go to escape the normalcy of everyday life.
"My Fall" opens with one of Yatsula's best piano intros on the album. The kind of closer track that will burn into memory. It will also bring you back for their next album. The guitar work rises high to the power of the keyboard foundation. The symphonic soundscape and buildup make this one of my favorites. Hanselmann's voice sounds like she is singing something from a movie soundtrack, "Please put your strong arms around me. Hear my desperate screams". Yes, you can feel the emotion in her voice. The power drums, guitar and bass that follow only enhance the dramatic soundscape that has already been created.
Well, ten solid tracks worth of a dynamic full length album and they are ready to give you more! "Ride On" is one of two bonus tracks. Full of Yatsula's beautiful piano and deep acoustic and electric guitar. A classic story for those who enjoy the lost experience of horseback riding in the woods.
"Black is the Colour", the title track, is actually offered as a bonus track. Benjamin Reiter, from Awaiting Dawn, joins Hanselmann on a deep romantic and emotional duet set to deep cello and soft acoustic guitar. Warm as a fireside song sung for true love in fall or winter.
The promo CD I received included a sticker claiming, "epic symphonic metal in the vein of", with a list of artists including my favorite band in this genre Edenbridge. Well, the obvious comparison question is how does Arven compare to Edenbridge? This is Arven's first full length album and it would not be fair to compare them to a band that has been together, receiving awards and recording albums since 1998. However, they are well on the way to reaching those heights. If you compare Black is the Colour with Edenbridge's Sunrise in Eden, then I do believe Arven is well on their way to a strong beginning. They haven't developed the epic eight to ten minute album title track opuses that Edenbridge is well known for yet. But maybe they won't even take that path. I for one would definitely welcome it.
Add some excellent cover art work, created by Jan "Örkki" Yrlund, and you can see the story of Arven developing well for years to come.
Arven understands what few in the genre do that you can still bring classic movie soundtrack epic soundscapes together with powerful emotional and passionate male and female vocals to create stories that draw your audience into the magic you create. If you are a fan of Arven, you should not miss this album. If not, and you like other bands in the genre, get this album and listen to what you have been missing.
2. Don't Look Back
4. The One for Me
5. All I Got
6. My Darkest Dream
7. Cercle D'Emeraude
8. In Your Dreams
9. Fireside Stories
10. My Fall
11. Ride On
12. Black is the Colour
Added: November 13th 2013
Reviewer: Mark Johnson
Related Link: www.arvenmusic.com
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